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The Truth About Chimney Fires

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More than 30% of American homes use fireplaces, stoves, and other fuel-burning appliances during the winter. While well-maintained heating appliances are safe and effective, preventative maintenance is an important part of ensuring your fireplace and chimney are ready to use each time you light a fire.

What to do during a chimney fireThe Truth About Chimney Fires

Chimney fires can be extremely frightening when they occur; knowing what to do in advance can help you be prepared in the event of a chimney fire.

1. Call 911 or the fire department immediately.
2. Evacuate everyone from the home.
3. Close the damper or air inlet controls. This limit’s the air supply to the fire and can help reduce the intensity. If the heating appliance has a barometric damper, close or plug the opening.
4. Open the doors of the heating appliance enough to insert a fire extinguisher. Discharge the entire contents of a dry chemical fire extinguisher and close the door again.
5. Wet down the roof or other nearby outdoor combustibles.
6. Monitor surfaces around the chimney; during a chimney fire combustible surfaces can become hot enough to ignite.
7. Contact your insurance provider.
8. Do not use the fireplace again until it has been inspected by a certified chimney professional.

Signs of a chimney fire

While large chimney fires can cause flames to shoot out of the top of the chimney or down into the firebox, smaller chimney fires can sometimes go unnoticed. Loud popping noises, sudden amounts of dense smoke, or a strong burnt smell are all indications of a chimney fire. The following signs may also indicate you have had a chimney fire.

  • Puffy creosote in the flue
  • The metal of the damper or smoke chamber connector pipe is warped
  • Cracked or collapsed flue tiles
  • Discolored, warped, or distorted chimney cap
  • Damage from smoke, heat, or sparks to areas of the roof
  • Soot, ash, embers, or pieces of creosote on the roof
  • Discoloration or cracks of exterior masonry
  • Evidence of smoke passing through mortar joints of the chimney

Whether you are sure you’ve had a chimney fire or only suspect a small fire may have occurred, it is important to contact a chimney sweep before using your fireplace again. A certified chimney sweep can assess the damage as well as recommend any needed repairs.

In the event of a minor chimney fire, repairs may be as minor as replacing damaged flue tiles or installing a new damper. For more serious fires, relining or even rebuilding may be recommended; rebuilding the chimney is only necessary in the event that the structural integrity of the chimney has been compromised.

If you have experienced a chimney fire, need to have your chimney inspected for signs of a fire, or simply want to learn more about preventing chimney fires, contact the experts at Clean Sweeps of Michigan today. Our chimney sweeps can help ensure your fireplace and chimney are clean, safe, and ready to use again after a chimney fire.